by Stephan Hume
I am so glad that I went to college to study music. I was able to go to a nice university to explore my exact passions in higher education. Seriously, everyday was amazing when I looked at all my classes, and they were in some way about music. I remember reading my first schedule and shouting out loud, “Is this really school?!” It was very fun, and I took a ton away from that experience. But did I really get everything I could from it?
The truth is, if I had to do it over again, there is one word I would have taken a little more seriously: networking. You may have heard this term before, and you may think it sounds cheesy or like you are trying to become a salesperson. Maybe you have never heard this term and you are wondering what I am talking about. Here are a few things I have learned that I would like to share with the world of young musicians and truly, everyone:
You are never too busy to smile.
Seriously, college can be a ton of work, especially if you are also carrying a job, but you are never too occupied to be polite to those around you. Besides, that person beside you could be the next most important person with whom you collaborate. Think about it. You are in a place where hundreds or thousands of people just like you are purposefully spending money to pursue a life in music. Wouldn’t you think you are in the perfect place to make some connections? I didn’t always recognize this simple fact.
Get to know people naturally.
The more solid connections you make in life, the more likely you are to find people who are invaluable to your life and the projects you are working on. However, every time you meet someone should be natural. If you are already thinking that meeting a colleague is like an interview, forget about making real friends. People can smell that stench a mile away. Plus, you never get to know the true character of others unless you let your own true nature shine through. Of the few good friends I made in college, I still do business and socialize with all of them.
Be the first to offer help.
If you meet someone who appears to be able to help you by being that perfect horn player on your next album, don’t start in by asking that. It may sound strange, but realize that you may have something to offer them as well. People respond well when you say things like, “I would love to work with you, is there any way I can help with your project?” A little goes a long way. I continue to work in collaborations with wonderful musicians, and I must say, it is so rewarding to feel that I am giving as much value as I am receiving.